In the eyes of most of the NBA and its fans, Sunday’s Toronto Raptors tilt against the Miami Heat was about continuing an impressive winning streak. The Heat did just that as they extended the unbeaten stretch to 22 games.
For Raptors fans, the game wasn’t about whether there was a win or loss at the end of the 48 minutes. It definitely wasn’t about the Heat’s winning streak or breaking it. It didn’t make a difference if Lebron James almost had a triple-double or that both Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen had 20 points.
The game for the fans and management of Raptors was singularly about evaluating the roster. The easiest way to find out how good you are is to judge yourself against the best.
I have aired my disappointment with the job coach Dwyane Casey has done this season. He must’ve heard me because against the Heat he did a masterful job. He gave minutes to the players that deserved minutes. He played the players that could be around next year. He gave a shot to the players to prove who should be around next year.
What the fans saw was a team building towards something. They, again, witnessed the star that Rudy Gay is and will be next season for the Raptors. I say star because he isn’t super yet. James and Wade are super and that is what Gay should strive to become.
Casey saw the play of the team’s most valuable player. Amir Johnson once again out shown every big man on the court including any one from the Heat, Chris Bosh included. It isn’t easy putting up 18 points on 50 percent shooting and grabbing 18 rebounds. Johnson has played that way every night. He also has become the mentor for Jonas Valanciunas. The Lithuanian had a good night as well. The Raptors have no worries with both their big men going forward.
DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross had off nights offensively but they both showed effort on the defensive end have proved they belong. DeRozan is a perfect foil for Gay. Ross will become the first man of the bench.
The most important outcome of the night came with the realization that Kyle Lowry is not the point guard of the future for the team. He isn’t a pass first floor general and looks to get his shot off first. With Gay and DeRozan on the floor Lowry’s first responsibility showed be to get them involved. He has proven that he can’t guard his position. His play and the inability of Sebastian Telfair to step up have made it clear that the team doesn’t have a point guard that can lead its players to greater heights.
The most important off season roster move needs to be acquiring a true point guard. John Lucas III is the perfect back-up. Lowry’s days as a Raptor are coming to an end. Is Jose Calderon available?
The headlines Monday morning will all be about the Heat winning streak. The headlines on the game sheet in the Raptors’ coaching office will about the heart and effort shown by their team. In bold should be written: it’s time to search for a new point guard.
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